Gene Editing Could Keep Cholesterol Down and Heart Attacks at Bay

By: | July 19th, 2022

High blood cholesterol is a major cause of heart disease, for stroke, and the fifth leading cause of death. People with high cholesterol have to take drugs like blood thinners and cholesterol-busting statins to ward off heart attacks. 

Drugs could be replaced by a single injection

Now researchers from US biotech company Verve Therapeutics have come up with Gene-Edited Cholesterol-Lowering Drug. They injected a gene-editing serum to modify a single letter of DNA in the patient’s liver cells. The company foresees that editing could help permanently lowering a person’s levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. This LDL cholesterol is the fatty molecule that at excessive levels results in the blocking of arteries.

If Verve’s experiment works, it could be a gamechanger. Patients with high LDL levels have to follow hard-to-follow diets, exercise, and other prescribed medicines. However, many people can’t get it under control. As a result, worldwide, large numbers of people die of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

Gene researcher and Verve Therapeutics founder Sekar Kathiresan, said, “VERVE-101 is a first-in-class gene editing medicine that we have designed to make a single spelling change in liver DNA to permanently turn off a disease-causing gene,” 

“If this works and is safe, this is the answer to heart attack — this is the cure,” 

Usually, the CRISPR gene editing system involves cutting DNA, but this latest technique called “base editing,” substitutes DNA letters. It involves switching off PCSK9 and ANGPTL3 genes that play a role in heart disease.

“Of all the different genome editing ongoing on the clinic, this one could have the most profound impact because of the number of people who could benefit,” Eric Topol, a cardiologist, and researcher at Scripps Research.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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